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Innovation

Time for a PC upgrade? Demand for high-end laptops gets a boost

Shipments by Apple and Dell continued to grow even as Chromebook decline drags down shipments from HP and Lenovo.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on
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Image: MoMo Productions/Getty

US PC shipments saw a double-digit decline in the first quarter of 2022, but enterprise customers and high-end PC purchases helped drive industry revenues up by 40%.  

The first quarter was a mixed bag for the PC industry in the US as manufacturers responded to supply constraints, inflation, hybrid work and a shift towards purchasing from commercial customers, amid weaker demand from consumers and the education market. 

US shipments of desktops, notebooks and workstations were down 14% year on year to 19.5 million units, according to Q1 2022 PC shipments figure from Canalys. The biggest winners were Apple and Dell, whereas both HP and Lenovo saw a slowdown in Chromebook shipments.

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While demand from consumers and education defined the early days of the pandemic, commercial buyers are having a greater influence in 2022.

Overall US notebook shipments declined 22% in Q1 and Canalys says this was "mostly due to the drop-off in Chromebook purchasing for education, which peaked in early 2021." Q1 was the third consecutive quarterly fall in US PC shipments.    

Worldwide Chromebook shipments declined 63.6% year on year in Q4 2021, according to rival analyst IDC. Supply constraints were forcing PC makers to prioritize new Windows machines with higher selling prices over Chromebooks, according to its analysts. A year prior, Canalys reported that Lenovo's Chromebook shipments had grown 1,766% year on year while HP's Chromebook shipments more than doubled. 

However, desktop shipments grew 30% year on year in Q1 2022 thanks to workers returning to the office, according to Canalys. Also, workers adapting to hybrid are also demanding higher-end notebooks, helping push the industry's revenue for the quarter up 40% year on year. 

"Hybrid work has proved to be a key driver for commercial shipments as employees rely on their devices more than ever for productivity," said Brian Lynch, a Canalys research analyst.

"Features to support hybrid workstyles, such as better audio/video capabilities and longer battery life, have become increasingly important, giving workers more reason to ask for device upgrades. Commercial demand is set to remain strong this year despite the macroeconomic pressure facing the PC industry and will help limit the overall expected shipment declines." 

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Dell's shipments led the market, growing 7% year on year to 5.1 million. It was the fourth consecutive quarter it shipped more than 5 million devices. HP shipments declined 40% year on year to 4.3 million units.

Lenovo, in third place, was less impacted than HP by falling Chromebooks sales, but still saw a 24% year on year decline in shipments to 3.3 million units. 

Apple, in fourth place, saw shipments grow 18% to 2.7 million units thanks to its M1 MacBook lineup. Acer, in fifth place, saw shipments grow 3% to 1.1 million units. 

Lynch said rising selling prices are mainly due to business devices taking up a greater share of shipments and supply chain and logistics constraints. Still, he notes, the average selling price for consumer gear has increased 60% over the past year, likely due to a move away from basic devices like Chromebooks towards more powerful devices for gaming and part-time higher education.

Apple continued to dominate tablet shipments with 4.5 million iPads shipped in the quarter, followed by Amazon's 2.9 million units. Overall tablet shipments grew 5% in the quarter to 11.8 million units.   

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